A huge victory for Fair Voting Maps and Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform in Wisconsin on November 3rd as referendums in all eleven counties (& 3 municipalities) it was on the ballot in — passed with margins as high as 77 percent. Every time this is on the ballot it has passed – now in 28 counties. This time voters in Adams, Bayfield, Brown, Crawford, Door, Dunn, Iowa, Jefferson, Kenosha, Rusk and Waushara Counties voted for advisory referendums stipulating support for a non-partisan redistricting process like our neighboring state of Iowa’s, to be adopted by the Wisconsin Legislature and to be in place for the 2021 redistricting process.
While advisory referendums like this are not legally binding on legislators to follow the directives of the great majority of their constituents, they do exert considerable political pressure on them. For example, there are now five Republican co-sponsors of the redistricting reform legislation in the Legislature this past session, partly as a result of the passage of county referendums in the past two years. In the 2017-2018 legislative session there was only one Republican co-sponsor. Legislation to impose an Iowa-model non-partisan redistricting reform process will be reintroduced in the upcoming, new Wisconsin state legislative session in January.
In the meantime, the durability of the most partisan state legislative gerrymandering in the nation in 2011, which occurred in Wisconsin, was in full evidence in 2020 where only 10 of 99 Assembly Districts experienced even remotely competitive elections in which the margin of victory separating the winner from the lose was within 9 percentage points. And only four of those ten were truly competitive – within 4 points. All of the other 89 Assembly districts saw either “blow out” elections or elections that were entirely uncontested by candidates of one major political party or the other.
In the State Senate, only one of the 16 elections was truly competitive — the 32nd District in western Wisconsin which includes La Crosse and surrounding counties. None of the other State Senate Districts was particularly competitive and none of Wisconsin’s eight Congressional elections was remotely close at all.
The passage of the county referendums and the continuation of the People’s Maps Commission public hearings, which resume next Thursday evening, November 19th at 6 PM, will continue to build public support and momentum for fair state legislative and congressional voting maps. The November 19th hearing will give priority to citizens residing in the 3rd Congressional District. To register to testify or submit written comments, go here.